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Allergy Awareness: You Don't Have to be Miserable

Health Hub
Author name: Lee Health

Summer Allergies Graphic

On a hot day in Southwest Florida, who doesn’t love those wonderful subtropical breezes fluttering the palm fronds? But as welcome as they are, those balmy breezes can trigger allergy symptoms that can make our lives miserable.

When you have a runny nose, itchy eyes, congestion or sneezing bouts, you’re probably suffering from either a perennial or a seasonal allergy, says Dr. Laura Veras, a board-certified allergy and immunology specialist with Lee Physician Group.

“Perennial allergies occur all year long due to allergens in our environment whereas seasonal happen at different times of the year, depending on which allergens trigger a reaction,” Dr. Veras says. “In the spring, tree, grass and flower pollen are common triggers of seasonal allergies.”

Seasonal allergies

Allergy symptoms can also include a sore throat from post-nasal drip, crackling in the ears when you move your jaw, and even fatigue, according to Dr. Veras. During seasonal changes, shifting air temperatures and moisture levels can cause plants to release pollens. Warmer air and higher temperatures means an increase in the pollen count.

“For example, in the spring people who are allergic to tree pollen may suffer greatly,” Dr. Veras notes. “In other people who have allergies, the late spring and summer when grass pollen blooms can trigger allergy symptoms.”

Wind-pollinated plants produce light pollen grains—a sort of fine powder—which are released into the air and carried by the wind.

When we’re allergic to a pollen, our immune system produces antibodies that trigger a response in our allergy cells causing , sneezing, wheezing, itchy eyes and other allergy symptoms,” Dr. Veras explains.

What are the symptoms of pollen allergy?

People with pollen allergies only have symptoms when the pollens they are allergic to are in the air.

Symptoms can include:

  • Runny nose and mucus production
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy nose, eyes, ears and mouth
  • Stuffy nose (nasal congestion)
  • Red and watery eyes
  • Swelling around the eyes

Perennial allergies

Unlike seasonal allergies, perennial allergies are an immune response to triggers you encounter in your surroundings or breathe in during daily activities throughout the year. The most common exposure to dust, mites, cockroaches, and pet dander.

Prevention tips for creating an allergy-free home

To manage or reduce your allergy symptoms in the home, try these home remedies and tips:

  • Dispose of old mattresses (they can trap dust and mites)
  • Shower after being outside or at the end of day
  • Use a sinus rinse (use only boiled water that has cooled or use distilled water)
  • Keep windows closed
  • Use an air-conditioner
  • Change air filters regularly
  • Keep pets out of the bedroom
  • Use an air-purifier with a HEPA filter

Symptoms of perennial allergies are the same as seasonal allergies. That’s why it’s important to identify what’s triggering your allergy symptoms, Dr. Veras says.

“If you suspect something in your environment may be triggering your allergy symptoms, see an allergist,” Dr. Veras advises. “You’ll explain your symptoms, share your medical and family history, and take an allergy test to determine the specific allergens causing your symptoms. All this information will allow you and your allergist to identify specific allergens that may be causing your symptoms and develop a treatment plan together.”

Allergy treatments

If you decide that medication might help with your symptoms, Dr. Veras say over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamines, such as loratadine or cetirizine, may offer relief.

If these medications don’t work, your allergist may recommend prescription medicines or allergy shots, Dr. Veras says.

If you think you might be suffering an allergy, contact a Lee Health Allergy and Immunology Specialist for a consultation or appointment today at one of our locations.

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